On 17 November 2023, Sotheby’s is holding a super auction in Las Vegas where 32 supercars are up for sale. Unusually, among them are two Mercedes CLK GTRs, a coupe, and a roadster. Mercedes only built 20 Mercedes CLK GTR Coupe units and 5 Mercedes CLK GTR Roadster units.
The Mercedes CLK GTR is a very rare car. Only 20 coupe and six roadsters were built. Therefore, it is unusual that two Mercedes CLK GTRs are sold at the same auction. We talk about Sotheby’s auction that will take place in Las Vegas on November 17, where, among others, a Bugatti Veyron, a Ferrari la Ferrari Aperta, an F40 GT, a Mercedes 300 SL Roadster, a Porsche 959, 918 Spyder, Carrera GT, and a McLaren Elva are also up for sale.
The Mercedes CLK GTR racing version was developed in record time, with only 128 days elapsing between the first sketch and the first test on the Jarama circuit by driver Bernd Schneider in April 1997.
According to FIA regulations for the GT1 class, 25 units had to be built and homologated for street use. However, the GT1 class was abolished after only two seasons (1997, 1998), and Mercedes built 25 cars after the FIA dropped the GT1 class. The coupe version was built in 20 units from 1998 to mid-1999 by AMG in cooperation with HWA in Affalterbach, cost 3 million DM, and was the most expensive car in the world at the time. The six roadsters were built after 2000.
The car has only the headlights and taillights in common with the CLK because otherwise, it is a pure racing car with a carbon-fiber body measuring 4.86 meters long and only 1.10 meters high. Many components have been taken directly from racing cars, such as the suspension and six-speed sequential transmission. The heart of the CLK GTR is the 6.9-litre naturally aspirated V12 engine (M297) that develops 631 ps (622 hp) and sends power to the rear wheels.
There were also a few units that had a 7.3-litre V12 engine developing up to 720 ps. These were cars with chassis numbers 03 and 17. Later, the 7.3-litre V12 engine replaced the 6.9-litre V12 in cars with chassis numbers 02 and 13.
1999 Mercedes CLK GTR with chassis number 7
The coupe version offered at Sotheby’s Las Vegas auction is chassis number 7, produced in 1999, and has only 7,015 km on board. The car was delivered to Switzerland on May 12, 1999, and was originally registered in St. Gallen with registration number SG 110706. The first owner only kept it until November 2010, after which it ended up in a German private collection until 2017.
In 2017 it was sold via specialist Kienle Automotive to a new owner, at which point the mileage indicated 6,376 km (3,961 miles). During the period 2010-2017, while in the German private collection, the Mercedes CLK GTR was maintained by SPS Automotive, a specialized motorsports firm based in Willsbach, Germany, founded in 2003 by former HWA AG employees. Of note in a long list of service items was the replacement of its fuel bladder, a new fire extinguisher, and a new set of custom OZ alloy wheels.
In October 2017, the car was imported to the U.S. and registered by JK Technologies. After being part of one of the world’s finest private collections of modern racing sportscars for almost five years, the Mercedes CLK GTR was purchased by the current owner in April 2021, at which time it had 6,448 km (4,006 miles) on board. He took the decision to perform a thorough mechanical overhaul that cost no less than 71,000 USD. In addition to the mechanical overhaul, several modifications were made to suit the new owner’s requirements. The driver’s seat, the roof lining, and the sports exhaust system were modified. At this point, the car again received a new fuel bladder.
The new owner exhibited the car at various events, such as the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and the Lime Rock Historics. The car also participated in what was called the “Ultimate Group Test” video series made by Carfection Films alongside its rivals McLaren F1 GTR (chassis number 037) and Porsche 911 GT1 (chassis number 005).
The car up for auction is one of only three examples with tartan gabardine leather upholstery reminiscent of the winning Mercedes 300 SLR in the Mille Miglia with Stirling Moss at the wheel.
Sotheby’s auction house estimates the sale price between $8 and $9 million (7.47-8.4 million euro).
2002 Mercedes CLK GTR Roadster with chassis number 03
The Roadster version is even rarer, with only six units built. The example at auction has chassis number 3 and has only 170 km on board, being almost new. The engine is similar to that of the coupe, but the engine air intake has been moved to the side due to the fact that it could no longer be mounted on top of the roof due to the lack of a roof. Also, the radiator grille and trunk lid have a different design than the coupe, and the exterior mirrors are mounted on the doors.
The car was imported into the U.S. in April 2011 with only 25 km (16 miles) on board. In March 2013 it was sold to a sports car dealer in Arkansas who called two technicians from SPS Automotive Performance in Wilsbach, Germany, to perform a complete overhaul even though the car had only 108 km (67 miles) on board. The car was then sold shortly to another dealer in North Carolina where it remained until April 2015, when it was resold to its current owner, a UK collector. At this point, the car had 170 km (106 miles) on it.
Sotheby’s auction house estimates the sale price between $10.5 and $13 million (9.8 – 12.14 million euro).